Ahead of the World Cup, FIFA goes after the ticket resale industry

The World Cup kicks off in Russia in just over a week. But FIFA says fans of the beautiful game are being duped by ti...

Posted: Jun 8, 2018 10:12 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2018 10:12 PM

The World Cup kicks off in Russia in just over a week. But FIFA says fans of the beautiful game are being duped by ticket resellers.

"Secondary ticketing" is a big business. Globally, it's estimated to bring in $8 billion a year, according to multiple news reports. That's over a quarter of the $30 billion primary ticketing market.

But laws regulating online scalping remain somewhat vague. Secondary ticketing companies, such as Viagogo, allow customers to take advantage of the regulatory murkiness to resell tickets at sky-high prices.

FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup, filed a criminal complaint against Viagogo Tuesday following complaints from consumers and watchdog groups about "opaque and deceptive business conduct."

Soccer buffs can buy tickets for the tournament on FIFA's website, via an application process that began last September. FIFA says this is the only legitimate way to purchase tickets, and employing any other method runs a risk of tickets being voided.

"FIFA's ultimate objective in the fight against the secondary ticket market is to prioritize the safety and security of fans and enforce a fair pricing scheme," FIFA stated in a press release following the complaint.

A Hamburg court instated an initial preliminary injunction against the Swiss-based Viagogo in January, banning it from reselling World Cup tickets. The court agreed that Viagogo advertized tickets that were overpriced, and that some weren't even available at the time of sale.

This is just one of the measures that FIFA is taking against fraudulent ticket sales this year. Another is that visitors must apply for a Fan ID, a photo permit required to enter stadiums. FIFA says it's a requirement from the government of Russia, where this year's tournament will be held, and it also serves as a visa waiver.

FIFA has an official resale procedure. Soccer fans looking to offload tickets can do so via the official site. They'll receive a face-value refund, minus a 10% handling fee.

Related: 2018 World Cup tickets pass $1,000 mark

The official ticket price for France's game against Peru on June 21 is $210, according to FIFA's pricing chart. A recent search on Viagogo showed prices as high as $1,394 for that game -- including a $284 booking fee and a $50 delivery fee, which only appear at the final stage of checkout.

"This charge is what allows us to provide you with a great service," reads a note on the site. "It helps us verify your tickets are valid, ensure safe and secure delivery of your tickets in time for the event, and provide prompt customer service if you ever need it."

This practice of not mentioning add-on fees -- such as service and delivery charges -- until the later stages of the booking process is known as "drip pricing."

"They're not being clear on add-on fees," said Matthew Wilson, a spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK's ad regulator. "That's not fair."

Viagogo, which was set up by a Harvard graduate as a direct European rival to StubHub, has been in hot water in the United Kingdom lately for these "deceptive" practices.

Last month, 10,000 tickets purchased on the site for an Ed Sheeran concert in Manchester were unauthorized, and fans were denied access to the venue.

Although StubHub and Seatwave cooperated with new UK regulations requiring third-party ticket resellers to be more transparent about hidden fees and other equivocal issues, Viagogo is the only resale company that's been "unwilling and unable to comply," Wilson said.

Last week, the UK Digital Minister, Margot James, advised users to stay away from Viagogo, calling it "the worst."

Viagogo did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Industry experts note that ticket reselling is a competitive space, and customers who don't like high fees can usually shop elsewhere. Tickets hold a certain market value that may be above the amount listed at the box office. That's why ticket resellers advocate for their business' open market, which is far more transparent than the scalping market of the pre-internet era.

The FanFair Alliance was established in 2016 to combat issues arising from online concert ticket scalping. Adam Webb, the campaign manager, explained that resale companies "were originally marketed as fan-to-fan platforms, because it was a challenge to resell a ticket." But now, the sites are swamped with professional ticket sellers.

Webb said that promoters and artists are now starting to add more stringent terms and conditions to their tickets to discourage or prohibit ticket resellers from listing tickets.

Webb said Viagogo is certainly the outlier in its non-compliance, but the market still has underlying problems that need to be addressed.

Related: FIFA is struggling to find sponsors for Russia 2018

In the United States, regulations are cloudier. Online scalping is legal in most states, though at least 30 have restrictions of some kind.

President Obama signed the BOTS Act in 2016, the only recent federal piece of legislation on ticket resales. This law banned ticket bots, or "computer programs that quickly buy up the best seats so the tickets can be resold elsewhere for more money," according to the Federal Trade Commission.

But it's a difficult law to enforce, and still doesn't eliminate the ability for humans to "harvest" tickets -- by using multiple identities and credit cards to buy an excessive number to then resell.

It's unclear at this stage what will happen to fans who plan to travel to Russia to cheer on their home teams with Viagogo-sourced tickets, but FIFA claims it "reserves the right to refuse entry to any holder of such tickets."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55947

Reported Deaths: 1654
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
Stearns281720
Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
Dodge1220
Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
Brown832
Meeker832
Morrison831
Faribault820
Sibley782
Wabasha780
Koochiching733
Rock730
Jackson700
Pennington701
Mille Lacs643
Fillmore610
Cass582
Renville585
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau450
Houston400
Pope390
Norman340
Redwood300
Aitkin280
Hubbard280
Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
Winneshiek821
Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur210
Ringgold211
Adair200
Adams160
Wayne151
Unassigned70
Rochester
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 64°
Mason City
Few Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
66° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Starting the week of dry
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Community adapting to changes at Rochester parks

Image

Fire-related fatalities increase in Minnesota

Image

Sean's Weather 8/3

Image

Campaign signs in Albert Lea

Image

Campaign signs go missing in Albert Lea

Image

Run the Woods race

Image

Don Bosco scores two in the 6th, stuns Newman for state title

Image

Pine Island holds community resource drive

Image

Pop up event for the homeless

Image

Seans 8/1 Weather

Community Events